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Posted at 12:59 PM ET, 11/29/2010

Herring introduces legislation to outlaw 'Spice'

By Caitlin Gibson

Legislation that would outlaw the use and sale of synthetic marijuana, a drug commonly referred to as K2 or "Spice," has been filed for the 2011 Virginia General Assembly session by state Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun), according to a statement Monday by Herring's office.

The proposed bill would create penalties for possession, sale, or distribution of the drug, establishing guidelines that are largely in accord with the provisions for marijuana use and possession, the statement said.

K2, produced in China and Korea, is made with a combination of herbs and spices that are sprayed with a synthetic compound similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, according to police. K2, which has been sold since 2006 for about $30 to $40 per three-gram bag, can be purchased legally in Virginia and is currently sold as an incense product at local convenience stores, authorities said.

The effects of K2 are often touted as being similar to marijuana -- sleepiness, relaxation, lowered blood pressure -- but many users report the opposite, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. K2 often causes a racing heartbeat, anxiety, elevated blood pressure and nausea, the association said.

Police have reported that at higher doses, the drug can cause hallucinations, elevated heart rate, seizures, and unconsciousness or coma.

"The fact that these dangerous substances are legal in Virginia is unacceptable," Herring said in a statement. "The effects of synthetic marijuana are extremely harmful to those who use it. It is clear that usage of this gateway drug is on the rise among the youth in our community and in Virginia, and we need to confront this serious issue head on."

Michelle White, President of the Virginia Drug Court Association, said that many drug courts are observing a significant increase in the number of cases involving synthetic marijuana -- particularly among youth enrolled in juvenile drug courts, "because the substance is not detected on a marijuana drug screen and remains readily and legally accessible," she said.

Leesburg police chief Joseph Price called attention to the problem in October after several cases occurred in Loudoun, including one that required hospitalization. Price said he would encourage legislation to outlaw K2 and asked local convenience stores to stop carrying the product.

"Although the product is being marketed as incense, many of those purchasing it ... are doing so to achieve a 'legal high' since currently it is not a violation in the Commonwealth," Price said. "It is also obvious that most store proprietors know how it is being used."

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported over 1,500 overdoses nationally resulting from use of K2 during the first nine months of 2010, and at least 352 emergency room visits -- for attempted suicides, extremely elevated heart rate and blood pressure, comas, seizures and anxiety attacks, and more -- have been linked to use of the drug, according to police.

Ten states have already adopted legislation banning the product and others are taking similar steps to address the problem, police said.

By Caitlin Gibson  | November 29, 2010; 12:59 PM ET
Categories:  Caitlin Gibson, General Assembly, General Assembly 2011, Loudoun County  
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Comments

"The fact that these dangerous substances are legal in Virginia is unacceptable," Herring said in a statement.

Then we'd better ban tobacco, alcohol, and firearms. Also, cars, buses, Metro, coffee, baseball bats, politicians,...well, you get the idea.

Posted by: foofoofoo | November 29, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I think this state senator needs to read the newspaper. Just last week, the DEA used their regulatory authority to ban synthetic pot.

Posted by: buffysummers | November 29, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

With all of this DEA crackdown and local law enforcement patchwork of emphasis on marijuana and marijuana substitutes, there seems to a void of companies offering an all natural blend that is still legal and will be hard to criminalize. While K2 related compounds are claim to be natural, most are sprayed with synthetic compounds to get you high. My source for all natural spice is http://k2spicesource.com/ , while it says it is K2 in its title, it provides a unique blend of legal herbs used for incense with no chemical additives.

Posted by: glennlab | November 29, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Well then, legalize cannabis - a drug with many years of use data showing minimal detrimental effects - and people won't seek out this chemical garbage which is definitely scary when too much is injested.

Unlike cannabis for which OD involves falling asleep, this stuff completely incapacitates and seriously sickness.

Posted by: overdrive_68 | November 29, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Well then, legalize cannabis - a drug with many years of use data showing minimal detrimental effects - and people won't seek out this chemical garbage which is definitely scary when too much is injested.
Unlike cannabis for which OD involves falling asleep, this stuff completely incapacitates and seriously sickens including muscle spasms, violent nausea, and complete body weakness all while relatively consciousness. It's very scary and I can understand why people go to the hospital.

Legalize Cannabis for adults!

Posted by: overdrive_68 | November 29, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

The Daddy State strikes again.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 30, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Just legalise Marijuana already. It seems like every other year people come up with some worse substance to abuse because Marijuana is still illegal.

Posted by: MarilynManson | November 30, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

A ban on these products is beyond hypocritical. The FDA approves toxic substances for human consumption all of the time and no one bats an eye, but when it comes to legal highs, watch out! What is the point of prohibition anyway? These guys have k2 incense products that are legal in every single state http://www.k2cafe.org/ so you see, it's a never-ending cycle.

Posted by: hollybug80 | November 30, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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